Frostbite forces Ranulph Fiennes to quit Antarctic expedition
February 26, 2013 -- Updated 1428 GMT (2228 HKT)
- Ranulph Fiennes pulls out of attempt to cross the Antarctic in winter
- British adventurer suffers frostbite after trying to fix a ski binding
- The expedition viewed as last great polar challenge
- Rest of team will continue on 4,000 km journey without Fiennes
(CNN) -- Frostbite has forced British adventurer Ranulph Fiennes to quit his attempt to cross the Antarctic in winter -- a challenge his team regarded as the coldest journey on earth.
Tony Medniuk, the chairman of the expedition, said Fiennes' hand was frostbitten when he had to fix a loose ski binding with his bare hands in temperatures of around minus 30 degrees Celsius (minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit).
"It is the last remaining great polar challenge," Medniuk told CNN.
"He was going to be on skis, in specially adapted clothing to withstand the temperatures, so that he would be the first person to actually ski across the Antarctic in winter."
Fiennes' evacuation has been delayed by a blizzard but he is expected to be transported by skidoo to the Princess Elisabeth Station about 70 kilometers (44 miles) away from his current position. From there he will be flown to Novo to get a connecting flight to Cape Town.
Ranulph Fiennes on Antarctic adventure
The other five members of the expedition will continue the journey without Fiennes as their leader, Medniuk said.
Read: Veteran explorer sets off on "The Coldest Journey."
They plan to travel almost 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles) through icy wilderness mostly in complete darkness and in temperatures as low as minus 90 degrees Celsius. The journey is expected to take six months.
A Norwegian team recently completed a winter crossing of the Arctic but this is the first attempt to traverse the Antarctic.
Fiennes has previously been the first person to reach both the North and South Poles by land and the first to cross Antarctica on foot.
The team set sail from London in December and were building a base camp and supply depot inland from Crown Bay when Fiennes developed the case of frostbite. They are due to begin the polar crossing as scheduled on March 21.
Before his latest adventure, 68-year-old Fiennes described polar exploration as a drug or addiction.
"Once you get bitten by polar records, you keep going for it," he told CNN.
First woman to cross Antarctic solo: I've never felt so alone
Fiennes, who lost five fingers to frostbite on a previous expedition and also suffered heart problems during an attempt to climb Mt Everest, was sanguine about the risks of this adventure.
"I don't think about not coming back, because I mean, more people get killed on the roads here [London] than they do in Antarctica. I mean, I had a massive heart attack reading a magazine on an airplane. You don't need to go to Antarctica to pop it."
The expedition also aims to collect data on how climate change is affecting the Antarctic icecap in winter and raise $10 million for the blindness charity Seeing is Believing.
Adventurers recreate 'greatest survival story' of the Antarctic
CNN's Becky Anderson and journalist Tom Levitt in London contributed to this report
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0254 GMT (1054 HKT)
A decade on from devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Red Cross' Matthias Schmale says that the lessons learned have made us safer.
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0024 GMT (0824 HKT)
As soon as word broke that "The Interview" will hit some theaters, celebrations erupted across social media -- including from the stars of the film.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 1844 GMT (0244 HKT)
Did a rogue hacker -- or the U.S. government -- cut the cord for the regime's Internet?
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0106 GMT (0906 HKT)
Monaco's newborn royals, Princess Gabriella and Crown Prince Jacques Honore Rainier, posed for their first official photos with their parents.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 1706 GMT (0106 HKT)
What's next for the Internet? Acclaimed scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee shares his insights.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 0822 GMT (1622 HKT)
The United States and North Korea have long been locked in a bitter cycle of escalating and deescalating tensions. But the current cyber conflict may be especially hard to predict.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 2100 GMT (0500 HKT)
A chilling video shows Boko Haram executing dozens of non-Muslims.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1134 GMT (1934 HKT)
New planes, new flight tests ... but will we get cheaper airfares?
December 21, 2014 -- Updated 1746 GMT (0146 HKT)
The killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 0251 GMT (1051 HKT)
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it has never looked better.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 1621 GMT (0021 HKT)
Unicef has warned that more than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1701 GMT (0101 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.